Considering Getting the Flu Vaccine? Know the Facts Before You Act
|December 8-15 marks National Flu Vaccine Week and many people have already begun contemplating whether to get flu shots. In general healthy adults & children don’t nned them. There are many safe alternatives to prevent the flu; you should certainly be well-informed and know your options. Come into the clinic for a free consultation to learn more.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that everyone over age 65 get a yearly flu shot and a one-time dose of pneumococcal (pneumonia) vaccine as part of their adult vaccination schedule. The CDC is also recommending flu shots for infants over 5 months of age.
What you should know:
1) Use of the influenza vaccine was not associated with preventing hospitalizations or reducing physician visits for the flu in children age 5 and younger during two recent seasons, perhaps because the strains of virus in the vaccine did not match circulating strains, according to a report in the October issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. (http://www.scienceblog.com/cms/flu-vaccine-not-associated-with-reduced-hospitalizations-or-outpatient-visits-among-young-children-17517.html)
2) Prevention is key. Researchers have shown that exercise alone protects mice against the flu, even when these mice were specifically infected the influenza virus. (http://www.scienceblog.com/community/older/2004/1/2004716.shtml)
When you exercise you increase your circulation and the blood flow throughout your body. The components of your immune system are also better circulated, which means your immune system has a better chance of finding an illness before it has a chance to spread. In a sense, exercising helps your immune system to be more efficient in weeding out and acting upon viruses and diseases.
3) Know what’s in your vaccine!
Some common additives to the flu vaccine include thimerosal, formaldehyde, chicken egg protein, hydrocortisone and phenol. (http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/downloads/appendices/B/excipient-table-2.pdf).
4) Be aware of conflicting interests.
According to the Detroit News, most flu vaccines are purchased and distributed by the government. And the folks at the National Immunization Program (NIP) have millions of vaccine units to move. Every year we get an official flu vaccine media blitz from Department of Health and Human services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC oversees the NIP. In a February 2005 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases compared flu-related mortality among older people to rates of immunization. Their finding: During the past quarter century, immunization rates for the elderly have climbed substantially while the elderly flu-related mortality rate has stayed the same. The authors of the research wrote: “We conclude that observational studies substantially overestimate vaccination benefit.”
5) It May Work, It May Not
Each year the flu vaccine is newly redesigned, using several strains from different types of flu that were common the season before. So the 2008-09 vaccine is, in theory, ideal for protecting you from last year’s primary flu types. Vaccine developers assume that whatever new flu mutations come our way this season will not be much different than last year’s strains. The CDC admits that “In some years when vaccine and circulating strains were not well-matched, no vaccine effectiveness may be able to be demonstrated (Bridges,JAMA 2000). It is not possible in advance of the influenza season to predict how well the vaccine and circulating strains will be matched, and how that may affect vaccine effectiveness.”
6) The Best Defense
If you pick up a flu virus, you won’t necessarily come down with the flu. Whether or not you become ill––or how sick you actually get––depends on how well your immune system deals with the virus. The key is immunity.
The flu shot is designed to prepare the immune system to fight specific virus strains. But you can prepare and strengthen your immune system by taking these steps:
* Exercise regularly
* Eat a balanced diet of nutritious, fresh, whole foods
* Manage stress levels
* Get the right amount of sleep
* Supplement! Use proven immune system enhancers, such as Vitamin D, C, A and antioxidants; all of which have been shown to help fight colds and flu. Selenium is also an effective flu fighter, as is zinc and N-acetylcysteine (NAC), an amino acid that stimulates your body to produce the powerful antioxidant enzyme glutathione.